Grateful Dead Live at Hartford Civic Center on 1988-04-05
AUD>PCM>CD (Possible Matrix, Healy-FM or one damn good audience recording!); via Ankh-af-na-khonsu; Seeded to etree by PainoMan
Subject: Solid, but not great - good recording
The scene: second show for Peter and my spring break tour from our senior year in high school. Some homeless Hartford skater-type kids showed us around town, which was interesting (Peter remembers more of this than me). I hung out in the hallway for this show. The hallways in Hartford were funny. I can still remember looking up while dancing and noticing the unfinished ceiling with pipes and vents running all over the place. My impression was of a somewhat run-down old hockey arena (which is what it was - this was back in the old Hartford Whaler days). I think the place got some improvements over the years, but on this year it definitely had some old-funk charm.
The music: Set I: Jerry's voice definitely seems better than the night before, although some of the set is pretty standard. Brent does some nice organ work on All Over Now to bring things up in energy. Bird Song contains a very nice jam. Masterpiece is also somewhat noteworthy. Jerry's voice is struggling on Might as Well, but its hard to take the good vibe out of that song.
Set II: Iko is strong and they don't rush it, which is nice, but it's nothing particularly strong (especially if the last time you heard it was on 12/31/87, which was a really good version). Louise Louise is sweet. Brent gets to show off for a bit, and the groove is nice. However, this one seems to end with a case of the boys all looking at each other waiting for someone to do something. No one took the lead, so it kind of died out. Bobby takes out the slide on Sampson and brings a nice jam that much higher. Ship is standard. Smokstack is always welcome in my book. This one starts strong and Jerry gives it some good punch after Bobby spits his vocals. The post-space Miracle>Wharf Rat>Throw>Away is standard. Of note is that the crowd is able to keep the Not Fade chant going smoothly enough that the band comes back up on stage for the encore and finishes the chant with the audience. Not an entirely rare occurrence, but pretty cool when it happened. Knockin is standard.
Subject: By saying this is the best of the bunch does Not mean you search long and hard to tune in.
1st Set: Two minutes of nominal tuning precede the 'out of the gates' "Hell." It's nice, but c'mon...you can better elsewhere. There's nothing novel or new about this "Sugaree." "Walkin" slightly haunts. "Dire" is peppy but not remarkable. "All Over Now" features more passion than the other tunes, but I've always taken this song from an angry perspective and Bobby's singing doesn't provide the necessary nuance to get be riled up. An always compelling but not magnificent "Bird" follows. "Masterpiece" is not the brightest star, but it shines. "Might" is another 'Ease' way to get them out, but its carefree energy fits the band's tone. BTW, Jerry still can't sing.
2nd Set: Jerry shows signs of coming to life during an energetic "Iko" though he still runs hot/cold. Things just goofy with a slowed-down bluesy "Louie Louie" that becomes rather monotonous after the first verse. The furious activity of the percussionists and Phil's gritty works elevates this "Samson" to enviable levels. The overplayed "Ship" is palatable because of Jerry's instrument. Things get rougher and dirtier during Smokestack" Listening to it during the day will cause the skies to blacken and your face rotten with soot. How did 'Mork' arrive during "Drums?" "Space" passes by and we head towards an excitable "Miracle." The band has a tough time slowing down the tempo to tell the downtrodden story of August West. It's barely standard as the set gets into predictable territory by performing a chessily (7:50) impassioned decent "Throwing." Each evening is professionally handled and workmanlike but there's little novel inspiration to the performances. That being said, the AUD's are a real treat as the crowd's undying affection provides me with enough warm sustainance. "NFA" and its chant provide me with this glimmer into my exercise of futility(?)
Considering Jerry's less than ideal vocals all throughout the run, "Knockin" is an appropriate encore choice. It's played nicely too.
2 4/5th stars.
Subject: finish strong
rare louie louie for those looking for it. Unfortunately, it was as bad as I remembered it.
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